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Privacy Social Networks

The Gradual Erosion of the Right To Privacy 234

PeteV writes "There is an interesting article on the BBC's website based around research carried out by Dr. Kieron O'Hara of Southampton University. He points out that under British law, an individual's right to privacy is being eroded by the behavior of those who have no qualms about broadcasting every intimate detail of their life online (via social networking sites) because the privacy law is predicated in part upon the concept of a 'reasonable expectation of privacy.' I think his request 'for people to be more aware of the impact on society of what they publish online' is likely to fall on deaf ears, but in effect what he is saying is that the changing habits of the world-wide community of social networkers is likely to have an effect upon English law and how it is interpreted. Given that the significant bulk of social networkers are American, this might mean 'American behavior' could cause changes in the interpretation of English law (which is not to say English people don't also post their intimate details on Facebook)."
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The Gradual Erosion of the Right To Privacy

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 09, 2010 @01:53PM (#30708328)

    Don't worry, there will always be privacy. It will just be solely reserved for corporations.

    • by ibsteve2u ( 1184603 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @02:24PM (#30708556)

      It is bizarre that corporations are "persons" because of the timing of a SCOTUS clerk's stenography. [ratical.org]

      But the fact people are losing rights as the corporate "person" is gaining them is hazardous to human health.

    • Incorporate yourself, your belongings, etc. as an LLC.

      Yes, it would suck that you have to become a one-man(woman) corporation just to get some privacy, but on the plus side, you can enjoy the same rights as the mega-corps, pay lower taxes (what is it, 15% as opposed to the 28% that higher-end individual earners make?), and enjoy the same skewed laws, but this time in your favor.

      On the down side, if a larger corp decides to buy your corp, do you become their slave? (I know, I know... but I can't get the thou

      • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @10:34PM (#30711930) Homepage Journal
        Take a look into becoming a S Corporation [wikipedia.org]...that way is a great way to go, especially as a one person corporation.

        You avoid the double taxation or a normal corp.....income falls through to personal tax after all write-offs.

        Nice thing too..you can save tax money from SS and medicare. You pay yourself a reasonable salary according to IRS definitions...and you only have to pay SS and medicare on that portion of your income. Example, you bring in $100K billed in. You pay yourself $40K salary....you only pay SS and medicare on that $40K. The remaining $60K...you just pay state and federal taxes on. Of course you write off purchases, mileage, etc...from that $60K before it falls through on your personal taxes...so, it is less than that..etc.

        Definitely worth looking into, especially if you are a contractor...hey, it is about the only way to keep your hard earned money from U. Sam these days, and I gotta think that SS and medicare taxation is gonna skyrocket soon if congress has its way.....

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by uuddlrlrab ( 1617237 )
        As the sole subject of the corporate entity, you are Chief accounting officer, Chief administrative officer, Chief analytics officer, Chief brand officer, Chief channel officer, Chief compliance officer, Chief communications officer, Chief data officer, Chief executive officer, Chief financial officer, Chief information officer, Chief information security officer, Chief knowledge officer, Chief learning officer, Chief legal officer, Chief marketing officer, Chief networking officer, Chief operating officer,
  • Logic fail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @01:59PM (#30708380)

    If this argument was "Well, all my neighbors steal cars, so it's okay if I steal cars too," people would immediately point out how broken that is. But when it's about privacy, suddenly that doesn't apply?

    Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot?!

    The difference here is that we're giving this information to people by choice -- people we know. Our friends, family, and acquaintances. But the only way to do that is to have a central authority to proxy that exchange. The problem is that this central authority abuses its power and -- even worse -- that the government wants its hands in everything as well. It should require a warrant because although a billion billion people might have access to the data, that doesn't mean you gave permission to the next guy.

    How f***ing hard is it to understand this? This isn't about privacy -- this is about permissions and how we construct social spaces online. The government's got no right installing bugs in my house without a warrant, so why the hell should it be any different in a digital space than in a physical one?

    Answer: Because they're taking advantage of the fact that it can't be seen and nobody understands how it works. It's that simple. No complex intellectual arguments required -- they're doing it because nobody's going to stop them.

    • Re:Logic fail (Score:5, Insightful)

      by maeka ( 518272 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @02:07PM (#30708430) Journal

      If this argument was "Well, all my neighbors steal cars, so it's okay if I steal cars too," people would immediately point out how broken that is. But when it's about privacy, suddenly that doesn't apply?

      You're comparing apples to oranges.

      Theft is clearly defined in law.
      Privacy invasion's definition hinges upon "reasonableness" in many places.

      So, no, that doesn't apply.

      • Re:Logic fail (Score:5, Interesting)

        by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @02:24PM (#30708554)

        Theft is clearly defined in law. Privacy invasion's definition hinges upon "reasonableness" in many places.

        If we're going to say that theft of a person's physical property and theft of a person's intellectual property are equivalent (as the law leans towards), then it's no small leap to say a person's privacy is nothing more than a license to that intellectual property. And as such, entitled to the same protections as physical property. Thus, theft and privacy violations are roughly equivalent.

        • Re:Logic fail (Score:4, Insightful)

          by maeka ( 518272 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @02:47PM (#30708700) Journal

          If we're going to say that theft of a person's physical property and theft of a person's intellectual property are equivalent (as the law leans towards)

          It does?
          Or are you comparing severity of punishment while ignoring the difference between criminal and civil statues?

          then it's no small leap to say a person's privacy is nothing more than a license to that intellectual property.

          You're right, it's a large leap.

          And as such, entitled to the same protections as physical property. Thus, theft and privacy violations are roughly equivalent.

          Your arguments (at least those I witness on Slashdot) normally do not rely on such acrobatics. I'll assume you have a better argument which doesn't build upon so much shifting semantical sand, but were rushed and didn't have a chance to elaborate fully?

          • Re:Logic fail (Score:5, Interesting)

            by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @06:23PM (#30710102)

            I'll assume you have a better argument which doesn't build upon so much shifting semantical sand, but were rushed and didn't have a chance to elaborate fully?

            Sorry, I got nothin'. Running these websites isn't free, and once they get big and popular (which increases their usefulness), some company swoops in and turns it into a profit center. In the process, anything that doesn't have a value (your privacy, artistic merit, etc.) is destroyed. This model epitomizes the history of the internet at both the micro and macro level -- all this wonderful diversity and innovation eventually reduces to profit-oriented behavior. The thing that gives the internet its strength -- lack of a central governing authority, is also its biggest weakness because it results in lowest-common denominator value systems becoming the dominant force.

            There isn't really an ethical mandate to prevent this behavior, and certainly not a legal one. It's hard to argue for privacy rights because it is a complex issue; It is difficult to come up with simple arguments, and evoke an emotional response from people. As a result, while everyone agrees privacy rights should exist, nobody can define them or present a unified front in advocating them -- what little effort is directed towards the problem is entirely and swiftly dissipated by economic considerations.

            I have no easy answers -- I just have a strong feeling that this behavior should be opposed. That feeling is based on my life experience that unbridled economic exploitation results in the destruction of public resources. In this case, the internet is the public resource.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by maeka ( 518272 )

              and I think it comes back down to the question someone else asked in this thread earlier:
              What expectation of privacy does one reasonably have for information they have shared publicly?

              I don't feel it's a complex issue - I honestly think it is black and white - you chat about or do X online (outside those arenas explicitly protected) and you need to know X is no longer private by any definition. This is no different than in the physical world.
              The only thing complex will be convincing people of this fact.

              • Re:Logic fail (Score:5, Insightful)

                by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @07:19PM (#30710454)

                What expectation of privacy does one reasonably have for information they have shared publicly?

                That question is improperly phrased -- of course, nobody would have an expectation of privacy when the information was intentionally and willfully shared with the world. It's like setting 0644 permissions: Anyone with access can see it. The problem is, a lot of people seem to think that what's 0640 is really 0644, to frame it in a way slashdot readers can understand.

                When I post something on Facebook as an average user, my expectation is that the information posted there is only visible to people I have approved as a friend. In this regard, the information is private: Only those people should be able to see what I post, my pictures, etc. The only thing most people want available to the world at large is their name, picture, and e-mail so other people they may have known can find them. Unfortunately, much more than that is usually available -- and sometimes the re-release of that information isn't even within their control. The company can also access that information, aggregate it, and re-sell it to a third party. People don't expect that, but it's right there in the fine print of they care to look.

                In an age where everything you install pops up several warning boxes, license agreements, etc., there's a real loss of impact. So you either have users afraid to do anything with their computers out of fear of breaking it, or users who disregard all warnings because there's so many and they've tuned it out. Privacy notices and the like are the same way.

                It's like driving without your seatbelt -- you can do it for years and years and never think anything of it... Until the moment before impact when you realize how stupid it was to have ignored it up until now. Privacy is like this too -- nobody pays attention until something surfaces that has a real, tangible impact on their lives. Like being outed to your family because your netflix queue data was shared in some contest and was insufficiently anonymized. Or an employer asking about those photos some guy posted of you at that party where everyone else was drinking. Nobody, security expert or joe average, sees these kinds of things happen until they hit you right in the face. By then, it's too late. But what's the alternative? Exclude yourself from society -- live under a rock? Never post anything online, never buy anything online, just passively watch it like TV behind layers of anonymization proxies?

                The problem is that people's "reasonable expectation" is that they won't be hurt -- and that they're in control. Neither of those things are true. What would you have them do? Live under a rock... or twist in the wind, hopeful that the next privacy catastrophe happens to somebody else, hiding behind statistical probabilities?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by poopdeville ( 841677 )

          Except that the law explicitly does not work how you seem to think it does.

          If you do something in public, you have no right to privacy with regards to that act.

          You only have the right to privacy where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. The reasonable expectation bit is the relevant one here, since "reasonable" changes over time.

          You will also note that the "intellectual property" you seem to be conflating here doesn't even exist as a licensable type of property. Are your personal details copyrig

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          "Thus, theft and privacy violations are roughly equivalent."

          No they are not, in the real world today privacy is almost impossible unless you have lots of $. Every financial transaction you make, every bill paid, and just existing in the world means you have hardly any privacy. With sattelites pointing down from above, hidden camera's in all your places of business, just what kind of privacy do you think you have NOW? All one has to do is go around collating all that public information should someone with

        • Re:Logic fail (Score:4, Insightful)

          by selven ( 1556643 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @07:22PM (#30710470)

          1) The law leans toward physical property infringement and intellectual property infringement being equivalent? Really?

          2) The point of IP law is to encourage people to release works to the public. Using IP to protect information you never intend to release is a corruption of that purpose and IP should most definitely not be used that way.

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        The law seems to rely on "a reasonable expectation." My reasonable expectation of privacy in my home with the blinds drawn isn't affected by my neighbour's penchant for posing nude in front of her open window. If I post details of myself online for everyone to see I shouldn't have any expectation of privacy whether or not there's a horde of others doing the same. If I take basic precautions to restrict access to that data (such as checking the box on Facebook that asks Facebook not to share my informatio

    • I agree that it's very difficult to stop the authorities from piling up so many invasions of privacy that by the time one gets started we have already lost many of those rights.

      That said, think about the world we are moving into as described by Bill Joy, then Chief Scientist at Sun Microsystems, in a now-famous essay published in Wired Magazine. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.04/joy_pr.html [wired.com]

      Joy's point is that in the near-long-term technologies will be available that won't take huge infrastructure

    • by Smegly ( 1607157 )

      If this argument was "Well, all my neighbors steal cars, so it's okay if I steal cars too," people would immediately point out how broken that is. But when it's about privacy, suddenly that doesn't apply?

      Exactly. It also does not apply when the majority of the neighbors all download content online - that makes them all evil thieving pirates. Because of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with the copyright laws and their never ending extension periods and stealing from the public domain without giving anything back.
      Of course, loss of privacy suits the aims of the establishment, while downloading does not - you don't have to look very hard to find a large chunk of laws that serve the business interests

    • Actually that is the case, and they wouldn't. Policing in the UK varies with social context. In Northern Ireland and other Irish-heavy areas of the UK there is a huge culture of car crime and the police pay little attention to it. Communities won't identify or testify against the perpetrators. Elsewhere young male car crime often appears as a lesser offence - TWOCing (taking without consent.) Whereas in some places car theft will result in rapid detection and punishment.

      This is because in the UK we do not h

    • When you post something on facebook, you don't just give that information to the people you are friends with, you also grant facebook permission to use that information. And if they want to then give that information to the police, that's their right. Just like if you tell your friend something and they go and tell the cops, that's perfectly fine also.

  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) * on Saturday January 09, 2010 @01:59PM (#30708384)

    . Given that the significant bulk of social networkers are American

    That's probably true, but I, for one, do not post the intimate details of my life on the Internet. Mainly that's because, as an adult, I have an awareness of consequence (having suffered through enough such consequences over the years to have gained an appreciation of the power of my own stupidity.) Nevertheless, that Facebook/MySpace phenomenon is largely an expression of childlike behavior on the part of many of those users. Eventually, they'll grow up and wonder "what the Hell was I thinking?!". Or maybe they won't: some people are just stupid after all.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      >That's probably true, but I, for one, do not post the intimate details of my life on the Internet.

      Here's a quick 5 minute google search, knowing nothing about you but your slashdot userid. I didn't try crossreferencing to see if any of this information is right; I'm only interested in seeing where it lead.

      You father was a physicist and electronics engineer. He lived in/around Bethesda, MD when you were growing up. You are most likely 55 to 65 years old. You lived in Illinois for a long time -- probably

    • by Onymous Coward ( 97719 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @03:44PM (#30709136) Homepage

      ... I, for one, do not post the intimate details of my life on the Internet.

      I think the point is not what you reveal, but what is revealed about you.

      If the norm is everyone posts private details about their lives which includes their private interactions with you... Then your reasonable expectation of privacy doesn't include your puking Friday night. Maybe not even what happened with that person on your friend's couch at 3 AM. What becomes public about your life is not only what you report, but what others report about you.

      If at some time law (specifically interpretation, but maybe also legislation) starts obviously including the ramifications of our increasingly visible intimate lives, there might be some backlash. I'm having a hard time seeing the particular form such a law or interpretation would take. Maybe something like a precedent that it's okay for employers to use services that link together all references to you from friends' social site posts... ::shrug::

      The point is that what is considered "private" is changing because all your friends are posting your and their lives publicly. It's not about what you post. If you want a non-public life, you'll have to spend time only with people who won't post your life.

      I might recommend more "me" time. Perhaps alone in the basement. If you want social interaction, online chatting is good. But use a pseudonym. And maybe Tor. And you should probably make up a different identity or two that's hard to link with the real you. Like you're a 15-year-old female elf or something.

      • Okay, after R'ing the FA, scenarios are more imaginable.

        So, in effect, any time you're in the company of other persons you should adopt a feeling like what you're doing is being video relayed on the net. Charming, no?

        Eventually you should get that same feeling when you step out your front door. But don't let that (perhaps dystopian?) distant future distract you from the above-mentioned situation which mobile phone-wielding monkeys are bringing you now. The outside-is-globally-visible horror is a long, lo

    • Consequences aren't even the problem, it's the consequences of the assumptions people make that are the problem. People like to aggregate and derive "what happened" from that, and suddenly you're defending against a ton of actually baseless accusations that those people don't feel are baseless because they feel they have something substantial to back it up. Then it reaches the point where it doesn't even matter what really happened, it's what the majority believes happened.

      Celebrities don't like their li
    • The reality seems to be much different. I'm a regular Facebook user myself, and just about everyone I cared enough about to make a "friend" on there and follow posts nothing Id say would really cause a loss of privacy for them.

      Most of the time, it's such "revealing" information as "I wish this cold weather would end soon!", or someone filling us in on where they decided to go out to eat earlier in the evening.

      The "Facebook/MySpace" phenomenon you speak of is little more than people finding a new tool to "

  • by RightSaidFred99 ( 874576 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @02:00PM (#30708392)

    I think it's obviously true that if you post online _you_ have no reasonable expectation for privacy concerning what you post online. But even if I post my most lurid secrets online but I intentionally keep other data protected on my machine, I implicitly have a reasonable expectation that that _other_ data is secret.

    His line of reasoning reminds me of claiming that a rape victim who is promiscuous in her personal life therefore wasn't "raped" because she "wanted it". She can screw every Tom, Dick, and Harry around the block but if she tells Duane "no" and he rapes her it's still rape in every sense of the word.

    A reasonable expectation of privacy doesn't mean certain types of information are deemed to be not worthy of privacy protection because everyone else releases the data, it means that by the situations I put myself in and the actions I take can I expect MY data to be private.

    • Duane? Are you kidding? You have to come up with 4 generic sounding names and you pick Duane??? What about Bob, Joe, John and Mike?

      Wait a second... Is YOUR name Duane? Ahhh, I get it. Move along folks, nothing to see here.
  • Number please! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @02:06PM (#30708418)
    In the days of yore, it was the girls that ran the telephone exchanges that served up the gossip. Nowadays people publish gossip themselves. The result is much the same though.
    • In the days of yore, it was the girls that ran the telephone exchanges that served up the gossip. Nowadays people publish gossip themselves. The result is much the same though.

      Worse. Now the telephone exchange girls all over the planet are serving up our gossip. Of course, I think they call them "routers" and "Web servers" nowadays.

  • Expectation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by forand ( 530402 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @02:12PM (#30708466) Homepage
    If i post all the intimate detail of my life to any social networking site, even if I only share with 'friends', I do not have a legal expectation of privacy. If I do not choose to share those details the fact that others do should have no effect on what is a 'reasonable expectation of privacy.' I do not see how this would hold up in a court of law. We have had exhibitionists (celebrities) in all societies for some time and yet their open lifestyles do not have an effect others rights.
    • I agree with your point 100%, but here's a question for you. What about details about your life that other people post online? Go to a party with a friend, don't drink at all (because you're the DD), someone snaps a photo while your eyes are half closed (which tends to make people look high or drunk), and posts it online because see it as funny (and where the caption may not accurately represent what was really happening). This someone might not even be a friend of yours. For quite a while you might not eve

  • by obarthelemy ( 160321 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @02:15PM (#30708502)

    1- stuff you choose to put online. There may be a bit of an expectation of privacy there (only my friends should see some of my facebook), but even then you're taking the risk to trust a third party to enforce some privacy for you. I'm fairly sure facebook and co commit to NOTHING regarding the safety, privacy... of your data, but that most people do not realize it.

    2- stuff you broadcast unintentionally. My brother uses gmail and is into mountain climbing and Canada... all the Google ads on his Mac are about these 2 subjects.I got treated to 2 days of Monster Cables ads last time I looked for a cable (hint for google: once I'Ive bought a cable, these adds become irrelevant). I'm sure most people expect privacy, they do not realize that their every move on the web is tracked. Pretty much like carrying a GPS tracker + mike + being filmed at all times.

    3- stuff that gets taken from a private place, be it my PC or my home. full expectation of privacy there, and clearly criminal to take it.

    We French have a law (roughly called "IT and privacy) that guarantees us the right to see and amend any data about us retained in computer form. I'm of half a mind to request my file from google, for curiosity's sake.

    • Your third category, stuff that gets taken from a private place, is protected by the Fourth Amendment in the US: it gives us the right to be free from "unreasonable" search and seizure. Like most of our civil rights, it grew significantly during the Civil Rights era in the middle of the last (20th) century and has had many holes punched in it in the years since. Our Supreme Court was expansionist about such rights in that era in order to stop racist police from abusing power. The problem is most of the e
  • ...cause me to lose my expectation of privacy in my bedroom? I don't think so. Not even in England.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by CityZen ( 464761 )

      I've kind of wondered if the ease of access to pornography has changed people's attitudes with regard to being in porno videos themselves. The recent article about what percentage of teens have participated in "sexting" makes me think that attitudes are indeed changing.

  • Welcome (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aceticon ( 140883 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @02:19PM (#30708532)

    Dumb, fashion-following, uncritical people fuck it all up for everybody else: Welcome to Democracy in a nation where education is all geared up to turn kids into make tomorrows working drones instead of empowering them as self-thinking and self-opinied individuals.

    As a foreigner that lives in the UK, I'm not at all surprised that the greatest assault on privacy and freedom in the whole Western world is hapenning in the country of celebrity culture and political spin.
    (the only claim to Cultural prowness that modern Britain has is BBC)

    Some people around here do to try to turn their kids into true individuals (and they have my respect for paddling against the tide), but the vast unwashed masses just leave their kids' education as persons to the (mosly cheap and superficial) Tele and a state school system which is so in thrall of Political Correctness and Health & Safety Regulations that kids are not allowed to explore and are taught to not critcise anything or anyone).

    This is very much in the best interest of the local politicians (whose kids go to private schools) since unthinking and uncritical people are easier to decieve with Smoke and Mirrors games.

    • Please go home (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 )
      You are just repeating tabloid guff, so either you don't really live here or you just commute from your company flat to the office and watch television in the evenings.

      I too can manage lazy stereotypes about many cultures - but I've worked in enough countries to know they are nonsense. And I know that the only people who complain about political correctness in the UK are private school educated drones working for right wing newspapers.

    • (the only claim to Cultural prowness that modern Britain has is BBC)

      Really? So you don't rate the Welsh National Opera, the Royal Philharmonic Opera, or the National Gallery as culture, but you do rate the BBC?

    • Dumb, fashion-following, uncritical people fuck it all up for everybody else: Welcome to Democracy in a nation where education is all geared up to turn kids into make tomorrows working drones instead of empowering them as self-thinking and self-opinied individuals.

      You end up sounding just like the people that were aghast at Rock & Roll, and Free Love in the 60's. The stuff the kids are "fucking up" is, much like the heavily religious dogma of old, something you care about very much but is being discar

  • I tried Facebook, but nobody would friend me so I think it's stupid.
  • by ModernGeek ( 601932 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @02:32PM (#30708618)
    The things I post on facebook are things I would show to any stranger. I think of facebook as a PR tool, when I post to it, I imagine showing everybody in the world. I would never use it to share anything "secret". If there were pictures I only wanted certain friends to see, I wouldn't use facebook to share them. How hard can this be?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The things I post on facebook are things I would show to any stranger. I think of facebook as a PR tool, when I post to it, I imagine showing everybody in the world. I would never use it to share anything "secret". If there were pictures I only wanted certain friends to see, I wouldn't use facebook to share them. How hard can this be?

      That's fine, as long as you're the only one in the pictures. If you're not, then either:

      a) You diligently consult all the other people about their privacy preferences before po

    • When I tag that picture of the guy laying face down in his own puke "ModernGeek", it gets harder. When someone on Assbook does the same, and you haven't heard of the site, and never go there, it is even worse.

      If you look at all the pictures taken of me in the last 6 months, 95% of them are me at parties. Why? Because even though I hit a party a month, at the most, 30 other days a month I don't take a picture of me working diligently, acting professionally, performing open heart surgery or feeding s

  • ...is killing our freedom of speech.

    When the internet became all too serious, you know...online markets becoming just like your next door store, and online places where you could meet - the government thought it was a good idea to make it mandatory to log everything you say and do, the internet was killed!
    The internet used to be a free place - where thoughts and information could flow freely - and it was up to each individual how they processed the data they found - pretty much like in books, but faster, an

  • Apples and ornages (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `retawriaf'> on Saturday January 09, 2010 @02:38PM (#30708656) Homepage

    This really has nothing to do with 'a reasonable expectation of privacy'. That principle applies to things you intend to do privately that you wish to keep hidden from a second or third party, not to things you do publicly.
     
    If I catch a Peeping Tom at my window (for example) it doesn't matter one bit what I do on Facebook, because in my home I have a 'reasonable expectation of privacy'. Period. If the defense were to bring up my Facebook activities, I would hope the prosecutor would realize that such a defense is no different than smearing a rape victim because she was wearing skimpy clothes or a robbery victim because they left their door unlocked.

    • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @04:28PM (#30709440) Journal
      I think the distinction they are getting at here is somewhat more subtle than the distinction between facebook at peeping toms. No one is arguing that because facebook exists now you can look in people's windows.

      A crucial point here is that this is in England, which has an entirely different set of priorities than America, I think some people don't realize it. This is why they call it 'American Behavior.' In America, we tend to favor things like freedom, truth, and independence, whereas in England they tend to favor propriety, respect, and order. I am not trying to say either system is better, but each side has made laws that reflect their ideals.

      Thus in England laws are arranged so the truth is no defense against slander, and in America individual freedom is so valued that gun rights are protected, with often deadly results. This has been an arrangement England has been happy with for many years, but with the closer international integration being felt everywhere, England is having to confront the changes in society that come along with that.
      • by pongo000 ( 97357 )

        Thus in England laws are arranged so the truth is no defense against slander, and in America individual freedom is so valued that gun rights are protected, with often deadly results against those who might do harm to others.

        There, fixed that for ya. Cites are as close as your Google search textfield.

        • Yeah, I knew someone would try to defend their pet viewpoint. Realistically speaking, you will probably go your entire life without being in a situation where you will need to defend yourself with a gun. If you want to have fewer deaths from crime, you'll get significantly better results from improving law enforcement than you will from having guns legal. "America is safer when you don't know who is armed" is purely propaganda.

          On the flip side, gun accidents are not a significant issue either. If you
  • wanting privacy => guilty of something. Maybe for the ones that claim that is true.
  • by WebManWalking ( 1225366 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @02:48PM (#30708714)
    In the 1960s, police tapped a pay phone in New York City because a suspect was apparently using it for criminal activity. At trial, the prosecution argued that he was in public, so therefore constitutional privacy protections didn't apply, and they didn't need a warrant for the wiretap. But the wiretap evidence was thrown out by the US Supreme Court, on the grounds that, although he was in public, he had a reasonable expectation that the conversation was private. In other words, the criterion of "reasonable expectation of privacy" was used by the court to extend privacy protections into the public realm, not to contract them.

    This was apparently treated by the Executive Branch as a loophole, that if they could give the public no expectation of privacy whatsoever, they could wiretap without warrant at will.

    Just a little history...
  • Most people want fast & free and are less concerned about privacy. This is observable behaviour, and it would be idiotic to expect online corps to hobble their advertising revenue by foregoing user customization. Or courts to ignore admissible evidence.

    Some people also seem to positively eschew privacy and want to publicise themselves. Their choice is valid too, but they must accept the consequences as well as the benefits. The interesting thing is that the consequences severity*probability has not

  • So, what does this mean for the other people who live on.in Britain? You know, the Welsh, the Scots, the Irish etc.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So, what does this mean for the other people who live on.in Britain? You know, the Welsh, the Scots, the Irish etc.

      Wales and Northern Ireland follow English law, Scotland has its own (broadly similar, but with a few very important differences). Ireland is not part of Britain, and has its own court system (although FWIW I believe it is similar to England)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What I do find interesting is that although I myself have never been a MySpace/Facebook/etc user, I can almost always expect that my likeness will be used there anyway. If a friend takes a photo of me, I can almost be guaranteed that it'll end up on Facebook without my consent, yet at the same time I can't be the luser who stuffs their hand in the camera's lens, or worse, becomes the total social recluse that never comes out of his bedroom. The reason for that is simple: people expect that I am like them, a

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What sucks is when other people post TMI about you. My real name and where I lived a few years ago is all over the dang place thanks to me suing and winning, which creeps me right out because it's on tons of law blogs and cited on several .gov sites. It's not exactly sealed information but why make it easy for everyone using Google to find it? It has affected me getting employment because employers think I'm a litigious nut, even though it the case wasn't anything about fair labor or employment.

    That's n

    • It'll just take society a while to catch up. Right now we're a bunch of fucking hypocrites, who all do the same things, but expect everyone else to have never done them. We'll reach a breaking point eventually.

    • The court system is public by design. When you chose to file suit, you chose to expose certain information about yourself. I'm sorry if you're suffering for it now, but consider that the alternative is a court system where proceedings take place in secrecy. We have a few examples of this already as part of the "War on Terror," and most thoughtful people consider this to be a Bad Thing; you really, really don't want to live in a world where it's the norm.

  • People *choosing* to post details of their lives online does has nothing to do with rights to privacy (or should not). Privacy involves protecting person A's details from being seen/used/compromised by person/institution/agency B.

    But if person A elects to make some aspect of his life public, then obviously there is no "expectation of privacy" of the details person A wilfully made public. However, person A may wish to keep other details of his life private, and his rights to do so should not be compromised

  • Given that the significant bulk of social networkers are American, this might mean 'American behavior' could cause changes in the interpretation of English law (which is not to say English people don't also post their intimate details on Facebook)."

    And here we have yet another European academic blaming me for problems in his own country. I guess you don't have to fix things that are someone else's fault.

  • At least according to Ben Lorica [oreilly.com] at O'Reilly Research. At the time of that post at least, the US made up about 35% of Facebook users, and the US and UK and Candada together made up about 61%. The US still had the most for a single country, but that's a long way from being the majority.

  • I think many things we presume to be rights are simply things we've gotten used to because authority structures have never had a reason to take them away. For example, years ago we had the "right" to take sharp objects aboard airplanes. Did we ever really have that right, or did we just get away with it because until recently it wasn't a problem? The idea of public safety constraining individual behavior is almost as old as civilization, and seems to me like a much more basic principle than any individual r

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Cwix ( 1671282 )
      Except I can claim that almost every single thing you do is counter to public safety. What if you keep the water running when you brush your teeth, your wasting potable drinking water, causing more money to be spent to produce the potable water, thus you are wasting tax payer public safety by forcing that money to be used on water instead of police. I can do this with pretty much any every day task. It is a bad argument, cause its unrealistic. How about we stop trying to save the kids, with unrealistic l
  • The desire for privacy arises out of a concern for what others think of you, a concern for your status, and the desire not to be humiliated. But too great a concern for what others think of us, our social status in relation to others, and a great fear of humiliation, from which the desire for privacy stems, all result from our having evolved in an environment where higher social status was selected for due to the statistical accident that it generated more offspring which inherited the trait of desiring hig
    • by MikeFM ( 12491 )
      My opinion is that privacy hurts more than it helps. If everyone is transparent about what they are doing then we don't all have to feel weird for just being normal. It's these people that do bad things and hide behind privacy while publicly judging others that are the problem. Lack of privacy is maybe the biggest equalizer of all as it puts everyone on a equal playing field. Besides from a purely practical point of view we're getting close to a time when privacy will be nearly impossible to achieve in any
  • A twisted thought... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by HigH5 ( 1242290 )
    Would it be possible to use DMCA to force people pull down pics with your face on them?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MikeFM ( 12491 )
      If your face has an anti-piracy device built-in. I dunno if being ugly counts.
  • Privacy is a myth (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nortonmansfield ( 1717388 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @08:03PM (#30710768)
    In small communities, there is no privacy. Privacy emerged with the advent of large cities, at the price of Marxian alienation. As we move toward the hive mind, mankind is rediscovering a need to connect that only seems frightening because it follows a quarter century of one way mass media. Our present society is technically advanced, but culturally naive.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by digsbo ( 1292334 )
      You got it right. When you had to be closely associated with your community just to get by everyone knew your business. You were accountable to your family because if you were unreliable in paying your bills, etc., your family would suffer. The general store owner couldn't check your credit rating, he had to know you personally or have someone vouch for you to extend you credit. In many cases you wouldn't ever have lived alone; no extended period in your 20s with no one to answer to where you could do t

You mean you didn't *know* she was off making lots of little phone companies?

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